Virgil Vahlenkamp

Virgil Vahlenkamp, the judge for County Criminal Court No. 2, speaks during a Denton County Republican Party event Thursday marking his and others’ retirements.

Denton County officials will begin the new year missing some familiar faces.

During the last Commissioners Court session of 2018 on Tuesday, officials acknowledged nearly a dozen retirements from people who have worked in Denton County government, some for decades.

They include a longtime range master with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, court administrators and clerks as well as justices of the peace and county judges. Their retirements will take effect Dec. 31.

Denton County Judge Mary Horn is leaving her post, which she has held for 16 years. She acknowledged in the session Tuesday that adjustments lie ahead for county government employees because of her and others’ departures.

“You know, going through all these,” she said as the court read through the retirement resolutions, “it occurs to me we’re losing a lot of institutional knowledge. There’s going to be a big change in a lot of different offices this year.”

Among the retirees is Sherri Adelstein, the district clerk since 1999. She started working for the county first as a deputy district clerk, back when the county government didn’t have a human resources department.

She said in Commissioners Court on Tuesday getting hired by the county was as simple as talking with a department head and giving a couple of signatures. As district clerk, Adelstein facilitates jury duty.

“Yesterday was the last jury panel for this year” she said. “I’ve made that speech about 21,000 times.”

Virgil Vahlenkamp, the judge for County Criminal Court No. 2, will retire at the end of the month. He’s put in 35 years here, first in the district attorney’s office and then as a judge. He is a Denton native, and on Tuesday he gave a thank-you speech broken up at times as he seemed to hold back tears.

“All I wanted to do was go to law school and be a trial lawyer,” he said of his career. “In Denton County, I’ve worked with wonderful people. Thirty years, it turns out, is a long time.”

JW Hand, who is also retiring, is the justice of the peace for Precinct 4. He has worked for the county over the past 12 years. In his resolution, commissioners noted Hand’s reputation for making people laugh. As he said goodbye Tuesday, he held true to that.

“I’ve been let go from other jobs before,” he said. “I’ve never seen this many people so happy to see me go. I’ve actually retired several times. I don’t know if this one’s going to stick either.”

Court administrators Bobbie Moore and Diana Owens also are retiring, as is deputy clerk Lydena Sumrall. Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3 Becky Kerbow is leaving, along with Donald Stewart, who since 2005 has been the range master for the sheriff’s office. Joe Bridges and David Garcia, both judges in county criminal courts, are set to retire as well.

DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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